LEAP Exec Chairman urges smaller firms to ditch panel managers

Richard Hugo-Hamman has called on small law firms to get their act together to make themselves more profitable by ditching panel managers.

The Executive Chairman of software provider LEAP says it’s the High Street firm’s duty to society to survive, and that it should be possible for them to provide legal advice, estate services and conveyancing profitably.

Speaking to Today’s Conveyancer, Richard Hugo-Hamman said: “Specialist conveyancing shops are taking off the cream in the good times but they’ll shut up shop when the bad times roll around, that’s what’s happened before. They’re not owned by professionals providing a service by a service, but opportunist corporations identifying a gap in the market

“The technology and the software offering in the UK has been so poor they’ve not been available for small firms to use profitably, and what why conveyancing has moved away from them, but we have the software to enable to do it properly and it’s in the interests of society as a whole that small firms can offer families legal advice, do conveyancing and do estate planning. Those three all sit together quite naturally and that’s how you build a small law firm. Severing conveyancing does not make sense. Small law firms are crucial to our civilisation – they are important for all of us. If you doubt this statement contemplate what life must be like in a country without small law firms, say Afghanistan.

“In the UK over the past decade, even last year according, conveyancing work has slipped away from small law firms to panel managers and conveyancing aggregators. I think the lawyers are looking to the law societies to do something about it, but that’s not their role. Small law firms need to take the initiative themselves to keep the conveyancing work and reverse the trend. They need to act.

“Globally, more law firms use LEAP to do conveyancing than any other system. We know it works and since we started selling in the UK 14 months ago, we’ve proven it’s benefits in the uk, hundreds use it. We want to try and turn the tide for the smaller firms to keep work for the professionals, and get work back. It’s those professionals that should be doing that work.

“A house is the average person’s biggest investment they’ll make in their lives and to put it in the hands of a big faceless corporation rather than directly in the hands of a prof advisor, you wouldn’t and neither would I.

“You ‘d go to a proper lawyer and that’s what we are crusading for, giving small law firms the tools to do conveyancing again, if we can do ti, they can comply and work efficiently, they can build great practices.”

Richard believes it’s perfectly possible for the smaller firm to compete on an equal footing with the larger firm by taking advantage of their connections within their local communities, but also by making sure they’re not giving away revenue they might be able to keep.

Richard continued: “The first thing small firms need to do is to become efficient. The second is to look closely at how the low margin revenue from a standard conveyancing transaction is carved up. If a law firm receives work through a panel manager and pays commission to it, then a low margin has become razor thin.

“There is absolutely no reason other than inertia why a law firm cannot market its services directly to estate agents, mortgage originators and the public at large. But it requires the software tools and action by the law firm. Passively doing nothing as commercially driven non-lawyer competitors take the cream, leaving the law firm with the work is not a sound business strategy.

“More revenue per transaction coupled with a new efficient software platform, means that any small law firm with conveyancing skills and the will can create a profitable revenue stream from residential conveyancing. We believe that this is the most effective way in which we can help them build financially healthy small law firms and as I said, we believe that this is good for the community.”

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